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The owner’s manual of my new car refers to a coating on the paint. They recommend waxing only after it wears off.
Are they trying to talk about clear coat without actually saying the words?
Also, I have heard of some kind of aftermarket plastic coating that can be applied to cars.
Is this the same thing or something else? As I am getting too old for extensive wax jobs,
this has some appeal. Where would I go for something like this? Would it be best applied when the car is new?
Any other advice on this?

Clearcoat doesn’t “wear off” any more than paint itself does so it must be some kind of sealer-wax applied from the factory, if it is referred to in the owners manual. Clear coat is a layer of clear paint that provides gloss to the color coat. The color coat for these basecoat/clearcoat paints is flat with no gloss. The clear provides the gloss and depth.

The aftermarket plastic coating I think you are referring to is a rock-chip guard from 3M. It is a vinyl-like clear spray that coats the front to protect from rock chips. Once it gets banged up, you peel it off and re-apply. I’ve seen it, it looks pretty good when new sprayed on a new car. I wouldn’t spray a whole car with it, though.

If you are too old for wax jobs, my suggestion is to have the car detailed once or twice a year.

I don’t know what coating the manual is referring to, but if you wait til the clear coat wears off the paint isn’t going to look very good. I’d get in touch with the dealer and find out what exactly this coating is.

3M makes a product called Scotchgard or “Invisible Bra” that can be applied to any surface of the vehicle.


Does water currently bead on the car? If so, then I’d wax the car after that stops happening.

Usually you can start waxing a car after the finish is 90 days old. Toyota applies a coating on cars made in Japan and destined for the US. It is to protect the finish from acid rain during the transit. I don’t know of any other special coating that they might use other than the standard clear coat.

They say waxing is unnecessary until the “stuff” wears off, which you can tell when water stops beading on the surface. Actually, I thought clear coat did wear off.

Just go with whatever wax (liquid or with the car wash) you like, unless it’s in some kind of real severe environment. Like a few others here, I make no effort to wax my cars, get them washed when they’re dirty, and they look great after 10 years. I am able to park them out of the sun, that helps a lot.

OK, there is the invisible bra stuff, from 3M and I think Xfil. Anyone know what is better?

I wouldn’t use it, I’d worry about what the film might degrade to in 5 years…

I know a couple of people who’ve had the Scotchgard applied to their vehicles. The oldest being a 97 Camry.

It still looks like the day it was applied.


That Clear Bra thing is fantastic. With cars being painted right down to the bottom of the bumper these days, they pick up rock chips like crazy. The clear bra stops that completely. My SO has had it on her (bright orange, very easy to see rock chips on) car for over 2 years now and the bumper/mirrors still look perfect. I just had the nose of my MR2 painted last year and it’s already got visible rock chips on it.

You do have to get used to the tiny little line that’s formed at the border where the clear bra ends - the first few times you see it when the light is at just the right angle, you think it’s a scratch and get upset, but once you’re over that, you never notice the bra on at all.

In the old days they used to spray on a wax or a glaze for shipment. A high school friend’s dad had the Ford garage in the 60’s and my friend would need to spend his time after school rubbing the wax or the glaze off. I made the comment once that that’s where the spider webs came from on the new paint and I thought he was going to strangle me. It was true though, there’d be a new 65 Thunderbird in the show room with the scratches you could see in the light from wiping the finish.

3M and now others has a protective film for the noses of cars to protect from rock chips. It is nearly invisible when applied but you can still see the edge line where it stops.

In fact this is what I was hearing about, and have set up to put on Monday.

One more thing you might consider is that if the rest of the paint fades, the area with the 3M film won’t fade at all, or at least not much. I’ve seen cars that are two tone when a bra is removed.

Yeah, I didn’t get the clear protection film put on because I didn’t like the edge line and thought it would only get worse with time. But it does protect the paint.

The clear coat will eventually wear off it the surface isn’t otherwise protected. I see this all the time on older cars who haven’t been taken care of and been constantly exposed to direct sun. If the clear coat wasn’t there, then the top surface paint would wear off.

You should ask the dealer where you bought the car for the proper procedure. I expect they’ll say that once water stops beading, to apply some wax at appropriate intervals, and keep the car surface clean.

One nice trick with the clear bras is that you can usually get them bundled with an extended warranty without paying any extra. The finance guy really wants to sell as many warranties as he can - pure profit, usually, for the dealership, and he gets another sale to tally on his record.

Because of this, I have thus far never failed to get them to agree to toss in the clear bra for free if I buy the warranty. In once case, this actually saved me money, because the warranty was a thousand bucks, and the clear bra was $1100, which is a great markup for what is maybe 50 bucks worth of material and 20 minutes of the wash boy’s time.

This gets me the warranty, which you usually don’t want to buy because they’re set up so that the odds are that you will spend more on the warranty than you would have spent fixing whatever might be covered by it. But since on my ledger, I’m getting the clear bra, which I really want, and they’re throwing in a free warranty, I can’t lose. If something goes wrong, I save money. If nothing goes wrong, then the warranty didn’t cost me anything anyway.